Never Too Late

 

John 11:38-44 (CEV)

38 Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance.39 Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”

40 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”

41 After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. 42 I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”

43 When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.

Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”

 Lazurus has died.  His sisters had hoped and longed and prayed, but Jesus hadn’t come to save him.

Now, four days after his death, Jesus turns up.  He is not exactly made welcome, but balled out for not having come sooner, not having been there to do something.

Whatever this account has to tell us about physical death and resurrection, I think it has a far more profound and everyday message to us – it is never too late.

We may think and feel that Jesus isn’t listening, is ignoring our pleas, refusing to help or has just abandoned us to our situation, but he has not.  Sometimes he has different timing – the right timing, and a different way – his way. (This may come across as trite, I might have stopped reading by now and thrown the computer across the room!  What I’m trying to say may come across as way too simplistic and easy, but this was the message that came out clearly to me.)

To all appearances and medical reasoning it is too late for Lazarus.  The body has been cold for a long time. Lazarus has gone.  He is beyond hope.  But for Jesus there is still time, it is not over until he says it is.

There are situations for all of us when we think it is too late, things have gone too far, beyond reach.  But the God of perfect timing can still reach in.  We may think it is beyond hope, he knows otherwise.  He may or may not act as we wish him to, God is perfectly capable of knowing what is the right thing to do and when.  

So, if we are despairing, worrying, lost all hope – God can still do something, and will.  The God of all hope remains with us.

Jesus calls, to us, “It’s not too late. Come out”

I, Davezelenka [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Double Disability?

Mr Pamsperambulation coined this phrase and encouraged me to write this post.  I guess I’m busy dealing with it, whereas he has to sit and watch it.

What we are really thinking of are the extra challenges of ‘Invisible Disability’ (health issues that severely effect your life, but not necessarily in a way that everyone can see).  Invisible disabilities are many and various and by their very nature, you may not know who is suffering and struggling.  This doesn’t mean that they are worse than very visible and obvious disabilities, just that they bring the extra challenges of people not even knowing you need help, understanding or special arrangements.

“Tourisme&handicap MOULINS” by Jeanlouiszimmermann. – Own work..

 

Such an example would be needing to use the ‘elderly or disabled’ seat on public transport, and getting accusing looks.  But it goes much deeper than that.

If you need something, you have to constantly ask or explain.  An obvious disability cuts those corners.  You may think I am perfectly healthy.  If you don’t know me well, you won’t recognise the signs that mean I’ve had enough, I can’t cope any more or today is a really bad day.  I may just appear rude, or disinterested.  I may just go home because I don’t have the energy to explain that no I can’t just go upstairs because it’s full down here; I can’t park there and walk; I can’t sit on that chair for very long; I can’t concentrate for more than 40 minutes, however interesting you are; I can’t take part in any activity that lasts more than an hour because it exhausts me – however exciting it may sound; I can’t hang around waiting; I can’t stand in this queue; I can’t keep coming back at your convenience; I can’t talk for very long; I can’t even always find the words I want to string a sentence together; I can’t just go and do that…  And they are just some examples from my problems, other people with other invisible difficulties will have their own.  They may include access to toilets, needing space, help with logistics – the list is as long as the individual people.  And we can’t always bear to have to explain AGAIN, because no one can see them.

Today depression has hit the news again.  Can you imagine how it would be to have to try to gather yourself to explain what that means in your life at this moment?  What you need to help you?  Yet it is very real, and by the nature of the illness often hidden, yet needs understanding and support.  Not all adaptations that need to be made are physical.  Sometimes we need to change the way we say things and the atmosphere we present.

It is true that we never know what is happening in someone else’s life, how it is to live the life they live.  They may appear stroppy, attention-seeking, awkward, distant or any other way of being – but we do not know what they are battling or living with; how much it might have taken them to get up or be where they are.  We should make no assumptions and no judgments.  We should find out what we can do to help, to make life and events accessible (and not promise you will if you haven’t thought that through or don’t mean it); accept what people need to do to make something bearable (that may mean something like lying on the floor – that needs to be OK, not questioned or tutted over); try to help and most of all seek to understand – not necessarily by asking lots of questions, just taking what is.

Disability is hard enough, please don’t make it any harder by your reaction, lack of reaction or failure to understand.  Listen, accept and do what you can to make life as easy and bearable as possible.  Because actually that applies to everyone, not just those who have a ‘disability’.

Where is God? What about Me?

By Boris Niehaus (www.1just.de) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
We only need to catch a snippet of any news at the moment, to think that the world has gone mad – and bad.  Fighting, killing, hostage taking, displacement of people from their homes – general inhumanity to one another.  What are we doing?  Our minds are troubled and our hearts break.

To some, this also raises the question, ‘What is God doing?’, ‘Where is he?’, ‘Why is he allowing this?’

My answer to that is that his heart is breaking too.

For God is not allowing all this – people are.  It is not God that is taking up arms, persecuting, massacring – but human beings.

Could God step in and stop it?  Don’t you think he’s trying to?  But for that it needs the people involved to respond.  God is not the one with the weapons in his hands – human beings are.  However much he might want them to stop, he can’t make them.  He can plead with them, but do they hear?  He might show them his way, but do they listen?  And if they hear do they respond?  And if some do, are there not many more who will step into their place in hatred and thinking they are right.

It is  a responsibility of each one of us to listen for God’s voice on our actions, and to respond accordingly.  The same applies in our own lives, however small we think they are.  We might get upset about the atrocities we see very vividly portrayed on our screen – quite rightly, but do we also consider the way we behave?  The minor wars we rage in our lives?  The need for our way to be right?  The shunning and side-lining of those we don’t agree with.  That is how wars and persecution start – it is just a matter of scale.

Where is God in these situations, big and small?  He is gently whispering, and loudly shouting, into our hearts and minds.  Stop that.  Choose love.  Talk to each other.  Live my way.

Love one another as I have loved you

Oh Lord,
my heart breaks,
for the madness,
the cruelty,
the injustice
I see in the world.

But I know that your heart
is breaking much more.
You know these people,
intimately,
and love them dearly.

So Lord,
I beg you,
not to do something,
for I know you are;
but for them to hear,
and do something
to make evil,
hatred
and inhumanity to stop.
Bring
not temporary cease-fires,
but change
of heart and mind.

And Lord,
as I look on the ‘big’ situations,
may I think too
on my actions,
where I am,
each day.

May I too
hear your voice
in the way I treat others.

Lord,
in your mercy,
give us all
hearts and lives of love